Monday, 2 December 2013

BRB Nutcracker


Jenna Roberts as the Snow Fairy
Photo: Roy Smiljanic
The Nutcracker, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Hippodrome - reviewed on 28th November
    
Created in 1990 as a gift for the city of Birmingham, Sir Peter Wright's The Nutcracker for Birmingham Royal Ballet is surprisingly different to the choreographer's version for the Royal Ballet in Covent Garden. But it has much to like, with its designs by John Macfarlane giving a particularly magical feel as mice emerge from the fireplace and six soldier dolls in a box under the tree come to life to battle them.

The company's performance in Act I was excellent, with the seriously impressive acting skills of the young children (associates and students of Elmhurst School for Dance and the Royal Ballet School) giving the party scenes a wonderfully animated and engaging flavour. Lewis Turner also made a vibrant Jack-in-the-Box with enormous jumps and the Snowflakes shimmered exactly as they should.

Act II was less successful with many precarious moments, including Delia Mathews nearly being dropped in the Arabian dance and a Prince (Yasus Atsuji) who pirouetted out of control. BRB First Artist Yvette Knight gave a sweet performance as the Sugar Plum Fairy, in what was only her second attempt as the ballet's lead. She was lyrical and delicate, but didn't yet have the artistry or indulgence that more experienced dancers bring to the role. I am sure she will develop these skills over time, and she certainly has the makings of a great Sugar Plum.

All in all, Birmingham Royal Ballet's production has plenty of magic and sparkle and made for a lovely evening at the theatre, but the cast need greater attention to detail to make it a truly world-class Nutcracker.

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